We Opine on Pearl Jam

Over their nearly 20-year career,  Pearl Jam has become a hard band to define. Of course some will forever think of them as a Grunge band, but while 1991’s Ten somehow both defines and transcends the subgenre, their follow-up Vs. shows the band had already outgrown the limitations of that label. Fifteen years and seven more studio albums later, the band’s instantly identifiable yet unclassifiable sound combines punk energy, progressive complexity, folky melodic simplicity and arena rock bravado.

Some critics have seized upon that seemingly incongruous blend and suggested that Pearl Jam may indeed be a jamband! And while the very thought may send a shiver down the spines of longtime Ten Club members, the comparison does have its merits. Though they don’t tour every year (and perhaps because of this) fans follow the band for multiple shows, and lasting friendships and families have been born from the resulting community atmosphere. And while they don’t scramble the setlists every night to the degree that Phish does, there is a true sense that any song in their catalog is in play on any given night.

To really get to the essence of Pearl Jam, all you need to do is see a show like the one they played last Saturday at the Clark County Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA. It becomes apparent that this band does not need a label or a genre. You know what you are getting at a Pearl Jam concert – a heavy dose of the new album, plenty of singalongs from Ten and Vs., a few lesser-known album tracks and a song or two that will not be heard again for the rest of the tour. All played with the same urgency and passion as the day they were written. 

 I suppose it’s become somewhat cliche’ to say that a band transcends genres and defies classification, so let me just say it this way. Pearl Jam is a rock band. When was the last time anyone had to explain what kind of music is the Who or Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones or U2, Bruce Springsteen or Jimi Hendrix? While Pearl Jam may not have reached as wide an audience yet, they have earned the respect given to those legendary names by creating music that defines their era.

Sep 26, 2009
Set 1
Gonna See My Friend, Last Exit, Why Go, The Fixer, In Hiding, Johnny Guitar, Green Disease, Amongst The Waves, Even Flow, Off He Goes, Unthought Known, Daughter, Supersonic, Present Tense, Got Some, Once, Life Wasted
Encore 1 Golden State*, The End, Red Mosquito**, Inside Job, Go
Encore 2 Do The Evolution, Not For You(Modern Girl), Black, Porch, Yellow Ledbetter(The Star-Spangled Banner) 
*Eddie w/Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) 
** w/Ben Harper

Donna was psyched to get a t-shirt with the classic stick man logo.
Donna was psyched to get a t-shirt with the classic stick man logo.

We Opine on Hockey and the English Language

I got my start in blogging about 9 months ago when my friend Nash invited me to contribute to his blog We Opine. Random hilarious discussion ran the vast spectrum of sports, politics and male sterilization procedures, and often included snippets of our personal instant messages. And cocktails. It is in that spirit that I dedicate an occasional column at Sounds Good to carry on the We Opine tradition. I wrote the majority of this post Friday night, and added some links and such today. Enjoy and feel free to add your thoughts.

I just finished watching the only period of hockey I have watched all season. The 3rd period of Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the period with a 2-0 lead and ailing captain Sidney Crosby on the bench. The Detroit Red Wings kept the pressure in the Pittsburgh end for more than 15 of the 20 minutes, it seemed.  Detroit scored on a long shot after nearly 14 minutes, and pinged the crossbar with 2:15 left. But Pittsburgh’s excellent defense never allowed anything to develop in front of the goal, save for a harrowing final six seconds. Why the heck haven’t I been watching this game?

I guess I never really got over the last strike. And I moved to Portland, where we have the WHL Winter Hawks, and occasional Canucks and Sharks games, I think. And I got into Fantasy Baseball and Football, and playing music, and blah blah blah – ahem – blogging. (Excuse me.)

I wouldn’t even have tuned in until I saw my friend Shannon’s Facebook status update: “Game 7ing!” Now, I’m all for proper grammar and syntax, occasionally making an exception for efficient and common text-speak. But this is a linguistic variant I can get behind – I call it verbing. It’s effective and easily understood – heck, to not verb is a tremendous waste of the inherent flexibility of words. I say, Verbing Awesomes Language. Although I will admit, as Shannon contends, Verbing Wierds Language too.

I still wouldn’t even have tuned in until I remembered the Onion article I saw that reminded me that these two teams were in the Finals. (Again, apparently.) The last time I was paying attention, teams from exotic locations like Carolina and Tampa Bay were in the Finals, so two old school teams duking it out for 20 minutes seemed worth watching before having some dinner. (Ah, Happy Hour Sports on the West Coast.) What I saw tonight took me back to my favorite hockey years in the mid-90s, when the Devils finally brought home the Cup.

So I think I’m back, hockey. I’m sorry I was gone so long, but I couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment as the Penguins passed around the Stanley Cup. Hey, there’s Bill Guerin, I remember him. Hey, did that guy just drop an F-Bomb on national TV? Awesome! If you’ve read this far, leave a comment and tell me when you got hockeyed (or re-hockeyed, like me.) Or give me some good examples of verbing.

In other hockey news:

My new face in Cyberspace

Greetings from Portland, OR. Home of great craft brews, outstanding Pinot Noir, progressive ideals and the 2010 NBA Champion Trailblazers (you heard it here first.) For almost eight years now it has been my home as well, and though we still have very close ties to Mother Jersey, Donna and I have never regretted a single day since we settled in. And until we pay off the mortgage, retire early and embark on many cross-country adventures, Portland will be the center of our universe.

I’m still fairly new to blogging. I started using the Notes section of my Facebook page to share my thoughts on my music and fantasy football. My good friend Nash invited me to join his blog, We Opine, where we offer unsolicited opinions on all things irrelevant and useless. You’ll find me over there when I’m feeling creative and silly. It is, of course, a must-read.

All of which leads me to the creation of my own little corner of the web, Sounds Good.  It’s a phrase I find myself using a lot, in response to a nice jam, a good idea, or just to acknowledge that I’m listening. I’ll be sharing more personal and earnest insights on music and life in Oregon. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine in regard to where this particular bus is heading. But welcome aboard, keep your head outside the vehicle at all times, and enjoy the ride.